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Dateline NBC

News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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01:00:00

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Channel 88 (609 MHz)

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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1920

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1080

TOPIC FREQUENCY

New York 8, Fema 6, Jennifer 4, Petsmart 4, Brooklyn 3, Stephanie Gosk 3, Manhattan 3, New Yorkers 3, Betsy 3, The City 2, Nbc 2, Nbc News 2, Allstate 2, New Jersey 2, Staten Island 2, Pedro 2, Jack 2, Lester Holt 2, Kaiser Permanente 2, Irene 2,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz,  
   Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. New. (CC) (Stereo)  

    November 2, 2012
    10:00 - 11:00pm PDT  

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four days after the storm, millions are still struggling. >> oh, my god. the hardest hit who cried out. >> thank you, fema. >> and amazing stories of humanity's best. >> everybody's pulling together. it's incredible. >> heroism and determination, the small town mayor who refused to leave. >> i will go down with the ship.
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>> surveys the wreckage sandy left behind. >> you seen anything like this? >> never. never. nothing like this. nothing. >> heart breaking scenes. >> there is my kids' strollers. >> heart warming moments. coming together, coming back, sandy, rescue & recovery. >> good evening, everyone. welcome to "dateline." i'm lester holt. the winds and floodwaters may be gone, but power outages, ruined homes and impassable roads have triggered a whole new set of problems for the east coast. and new yorkers, not always known for their patience, were more rattled today by gas lines that seemed to go on forever. but today, the reason got a glimmer of hope as the relief efforts started to kick in. harry smith starts us off. >> reporter: it's been four days since hurricane sandy struck the northeast. yesterday there were screams for help in some of the worst hit areas. >> we all need help. i need help desperately. >> reporter: today, some help
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showed up. homeland security secretary janet napolitano toured devastated staten island. >> we have 3200 fema personnel working this storm in the northeast, and more are on their way. >> reporter: tons of relief supplies were brought into floyd bennett field in brooklyn. national guardsmen and the red cross seemed a lot more visible and fema set up relief centers throughout the storm zone. >> fema was very helpful. they came out. we were in need of clothes. in need of food. and any donation that the people have given us, we're very grateful. >> reporter: because supplies and emergency services have been at such a premium, new yorkers have wondered all week why on earth the stay's legendary marathon was still on schedule to take place sunday. early this evening, it was canceled. and on staten island, where the race always begins, residents said thank goodness. >> thank god.
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my reaction is they're coming to their senses and realizing that these resources are going to be needed where it's truly needed. >> reporter: deputy mayor howard wolfson explained why. >> it became clear that the marathon, which is really one of the very best days in the life of the city, which is a moment of unity and happiness and joy and a celebration of everything that is new york, had become divisive. >> reporter: folks are becoming increasingly aware they have a lot in common with the people of the gulf coast who suffered through katrina in 2005. the sheer size and scope of the destruction from hurricane sandy stretches for hundreds of miles, from the jersey shore, to long island. this was a big storm, and has brought a significant part of the country to its knees. >> look at this line! it goes back -- this line goes six miles. look at this! >> reporter: with power still out to millions of people, one of the biggest daily concerns has become gasoline.
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some lines at stations that still have gas stretched for blocks. tempers of the drivers in those lines frayed. and police have even been called in to patrol the lines to keep the peace. >> i need to run my taxi too. >> reporter: there were some signs of meaningful progress. in new york city, more train and subway service was added. all told, the electricity is back on for more than 4 million homes and businesses across the northeast. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: this evening, the lights came back on in new york's greenwich village, something worth celebrating. and all but two of atlantic city's casinos are back in business. what are the odds of that? but for many more, the misery inflicted by the monster storm feels like it is becoming permanent, homes destroyed, neighborhoods gone, a lifetime's investment wiped out. >> it is like you had a cute little home and now you have no place to stay. i mean, you don't have a home to live in.
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>> reporter: across new york, new jersey, and connecticut, recovery comes in many forms. for some, it is a full tank of gas. for others, it's when the lights go back on. and for one man in new jersey, it's seeing the utility truck arrive on his street. >> i looked outside and was -- felt like christmas. somebody delivering new telephone poles. this is the most happy feeling i've had since a week ago. >> reporter: but there may be more misery on the horizon. bad weather is on the way, adding insult to injury. >> that's the overview. now let's zero in on one hard hit place. some of the saddest stories and loudest complaints have come out of the battered borough of staten island. 22 people lost their lives there including two little brothers and father and young daughter. today staten island got a big dose of help from private volunteers and national relief organizations. and while residents are certainly grateful, many would also say it's about time. here's andrea canning.
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>> how are you, ma'am? you okay? >> reporter: today, it seemed as if the nation was giving staten island a big warm hug as relief efforts here went into overdrive. volunteers came out on to the streets, accepting donations from those whose lives have not been decimated by the hurricane. >> thank you, fema. >> reporter: fema and red cross workers offered free water, food and clothes, while national guard troops loaded food into minivans for distribution to people still stuck in their homes. the outpouring of help on staten island is a huge contrast to scenes that played out here yesterday, when angry residents complaints were reminiscent of hurricane katrina. >> they're still looking for dead bodies, people unaccounted for. so the death toll is going up. but you need to come here and help us. we need assistance. please. >> reporter: some called staten island the forgotten borough, and accused government and aid officials of neglecting the island in favor of wealthier areas like manhattan and the new
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jersey shore. >> something has to be done immediately. not 14 days from now, today. >> reporter: and today there was homeland security secretary janet napolitano overseeing the aid effort herself. >> folks are going to be going door to door in these communities, making sure that nobody is left out. >> reporter: you're, i'm sure, very well aware how angry people were aware in this area, saying the government just took too long to respond. some even calling your visit political. what do you say to all those people here? >> well, i think we're here, and we're here in force. >> reporter: there was one sign that normal life was returning here. the famous staten island ferry resumed service. for many here on staten island, normal life is still a long way off. families are overwhelmed by the loss of relatives and neighbors as help has only just begun to reach the shattered communities of this storm. but if there is any hope of staten island bouncing back
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soon, it can be found in the spirit of the blue collar residents who live here, and their extraordinary personal stories of survival. >> we got to go. >> reporter: pedro, an iraq war veteran, got his wife and young children off the island, but he and a friend ended up riding the storm out on a neighbor's roof. >> the water was so rough coming in that we were afraid we would drown. >> reporter: miraculously they made it through. his neighborhood did not. yesterday we began following pedro as he started picking up the pieces of his family's life. >> hello, my chickens! >> reporter: he and friends took his wife jennifer back to the flooded streets of their devastated neighborhood. >> where's my house? >> that's my backyard. >> that's your entire house. >> oh, my god. that's my stroller. oh, my goodness. that's alyssa's bed.
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>> reporter: jennifer, who had planned to run the new york city marathon this weekend, was shocked to get her first glimpse of what just days ago was the place they were raising their young children. for her husband, pedro, it was all so hard to fathom. >> my whole life right here. >> this is officially the worst [ bleep ] i ever saw. >> reporter: and most devastating their home was no longer there. all that was left, the foundation and the swimming pool. >> there is my kids' strollers. two strollers in there. >> the barbecue. >> the barbecue. >> reporter: as the storm was making landfall on monday, the tidal surge actually pushed the home 500 yards into a marsh. >> all the way out there. that's unbelievable it could make it that far. >> reporter: another ten minutes pushing the boat through tall reeds and they arrived at the location where their home had come to rest. >> how did my house get here? >> doing this every year. >> oh, man. >> reporter: and inside they found all their belongings strewn about. >> i know.
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i know. i know. >> reporter: the couple rummaged for anything that was salvageable, only so much was not. >> my daughter's baby book. it's ruined. it's ruined. >> reporter: and their engagement proposal tape was water logged. >> she proposed to me on television while i was in iraq. >> this made it. >> it made it? awesome. >> reporter: still, some things were not damaged, like an old box of family photos. >> oh my god, these are our honeymoon pictures. >> my mortgage paperwork. >> reporter: an attache case full of documents, maybe trivial but necessary to move forward. >> my insurance paperwork. now i can actually see the insurance, what they're telling me i don't get. >> reporter: and while jennifer and pedro acknowledge they are heart broken -- >> i love you.
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>> i love you. we'll get through this, okay? >> reporter: -- they feel lucky to be alive and safe. >> no reason to come back here. >> this is wreckage. >> yeah. my. >> my home is gone. >> reporter: pedro and jennifer are planning to stay on staten island, but they want to move away from the water, and rebuild their lives on higher ground. and who can blame them, lester? >> you bet, andrea canning, thanks. earlier tonight you may have seen the special benefit concert, hurricane sandy, coming together, on the networks of nbc. music artists like bruce springsteen, christina aguilera, jon bon jovi and billy joel joined in to help the red cross and storm relief efforts. you too can still join in to help with a pledge. go to redcross.org or call 1-800-help-now. we'll show the number throughout the broadcast. when we come back, the effort to help those in desperate need before the storm struck. missions of mercy.
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>> we have no power. everyone in manhattan basically is good, we're not good down here. >> reporter: at these low income projects in manhattan's chelsea neighborhood, a church group was helping out today. what are you bringing up there? >> we have got some miscellaneous food items. >> reporter: triscuts. >> snack items, water. snack items, granola bars, chips. >> reporter: granola bars. the idea is to get people through a day or two? >> yeah. we have been up here every day and we're going to be here every day and we're delivering door to door every day until the power comes back on. >> reporter: the volunteers here carried bags of food up to the elderly, either too tired, unable or too scared to climb the dark staircases. >> how are you holding up with all these stairs? >> going up to 13, and i tell you, it's not easy. 11 to 14 with no water, dragging
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water back and forth. it is not easy. >> reporter: on the 12th floor, residents are going hungry. >> food and water for you. want me to put it down here? >> reporter: back downstairs and across the street, betsy hernandez who lives nearby says her neighborhood is already on the brink and now is over the edge. >> we can't use the toilets, we can't take a bath, we can't heat up our food, we're, like, we're basically to have shelter, but they forgot about us. >> reporter: you feel pretty cold? >> yes, freezing at night. it's cold. >> reporter: luckily, some new york cops and local charities were distributing packaged meals for people like her. on the way back to betsy's apartment, signs of the emergency were everywhere. people are filling up their water bottles from the hydrant. are you using these for drinking or cleaning? >> cleaning, flushing toilets and cleaning. not good for drinking. >> reporter: not good for drinking? >> no, not at all. >> reporter: not at all.
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as for betsy, she didn't quite know what to make of the military style rations. so i helped her. it is a self-heating pouch. >> right. self-heating pouch. >> reporter: yeah, a self-heating pouch. these things don't taste great. they're full of preservatives, they never go bad, these are the things the u.s. military runs on when it has no -- >> that's what keeps them going. >> reporter: that's what keeps them going when they have nothing. betsy is getting by. candles and buckets of water in the bathroom, but in the bedroom, she worries about a cold and scary night ahead. the sun is going down now. what is it like here at night when you're in this room -- >> it gets quiet. >> reporter: no power. >> it gets quiet. no one comes out. you don't hear anything. it is really quiet. very quiet, actually. everyone -- >> reporter: creepy? >> yeah. >> reporter: at least betsy has a place to live. 20 blocks up town, just a few steps from the tinsel of
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broadway's theaters, may be the most desperate of new yorkers. we're from nbc news. can we film inside? >> no, you guys can't. >> reporter: whose permission would we need to -- >> no, you can't. you can't get in. >> reporter: the school was turned into a shelter for hurricane victims, but was quickly inundated by the homeless. charity had been living on the streets with her triplets until the storm hit. now you're staying here in this school. >> it is disgusting. >> reporter: you think dangerous environment? >> very dangerous. there is people with needles, there is people that come in there with knives, guns. it is not an environment for children. >> reporter: maybe that's why they wouldn't let us film inside. for some, there are strains of hurricane katrina and the desperate scenes in the superdome. for others here who are homeless before, this is at least something and they're grateful for that. >> i had a blanket last night. i had a meal last night. i had everything i needed last night. >> that was richard engel reporting. when we come back, it was the storm after the storm, why the city decided to cancel the new york city marathon for the first
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as we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest questions after the storm was to run or not to run? should the city cancel the new york city marathon? mayor michael bloomberg ignited a firestorm of controversy when he decided earlier this week to let the marathon go on as scheduled this sunday. the mayor is a man who doesn't often change his mind, but tonight, he did. stephanie gosk has the reasons why. >> reporter: in a city devastated by this storm, holding a road race through five
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battered boroughs finally just seemed like the wrong idea. >> marathon ceases to be about running and it was all about how best to aid new york city. >> reporter: it was a decision that left some runners disappointed. >> i feel for all the people that -- that had problems, but you don't pull something -- you don't pull the plug at the last minute. he could have made that decision days and days ago. >> reporter: but many city residents relieved. >> i think there's a thin line between demonstrating resiliency and being insensitive. >> reporter: the reversal came as a surprise, just earlier today mayor michael bloomberg had defended his decision to hold the new york city marathon on sunday, a race that had never been canceled in its 40-year history. >> new york has to show that we are here and that we are going to recover. and give people something to cheer about. >> reporter: but far from cheering, many new yorkers had been angry about the possibility
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of diverting city resources at a time of suffering. police, sanitation workers, who may have been needed elsewhere. >> they would rather have a marathon than give the water to the people running than the people who need it who don't have house, lights or heating. >> reporter: food, water and port-a-potties had already been trucked on to the course for sunday, enough generators to power 400 homes were standing by while many new yorkers were still in the dark. the outrage of it all had been building for days, especially on staten island, the hard hit borough where the race was to begin. >> city of new york now is preparing for a marathon. we're pulling bodies out of water. you see the disconnect here? >> reporter: the 26.2 mile race would have wound its way through each borough in the city, a virtual tour of sandy's destruction. the dilemma was in sharp focus here at the staten island hilton garden inn, owner richard nicotra was not honoring marathoners reservations, keeping rooms for needy new yorkers.
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>> do i throw my neighbor out into the street, or provide a room for an out of towner so they can sleep and be able to run in a race? i think the decision is pretty easy to make. >> reporter: so why did the mayor reverse course? instead of a news conference, he issued a statement. while holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. we would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants. and so we have decided to cancel it. >> definitely right call. it should have been on this weekend. >> reporter: it is a bittersweet decision for the runners and the city. and with this competitive race canceled, no one is a winner. >> stephanie gosk joins us now from new york central park. stephanie, any idea what the tipping point was in the decision to call off the race? >> reporter: lester, there was a debate over whether or not -- the race would divert resources from the city, but really this
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boiled down to in the end a question of sensitivity and one of the biggest symbols of what people are beginning to perceive as a lack of sensitivity are these generators behind me. they were brought in by race organizers to do things like power the race clock and media tent. but they're large enough to power 400 homes and as you know, there are a lot of homes in this city without power. these generators were on the front page of the new york post today, triggered a lot of anger. that anger grew throughout the day. lester? >> the decision has been made, but let's think there is usually 45,000 or so runners that come from the marathon, most of them from out of town. how hard is it to unwind an event of this magnitude? >> reporter: it is pretty tricky. almost all of those racers are in town. they have registered. they have their t-shirts. they have their numbers, they have their hotel rooms. the infrastructure for the race is pretty substantial as well. you have stands that have already been built here. and lots of that has been done. it is going to take days to undo it. >> stephanie gosk, thanks.
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i spent some time this week with people who lost everything to the flood, and fire that destroyed much of the community of breezy point. i'll have their stories when we come back. has tasty pieces of chicken with rice and beans. hmmm. for giant hunger! thanks mom! see ya! whoaa...oops! mom? i'm ok. grandma? hi sweetie! she operates the head. [ male announcer ] campbell's chunky soup. it fills you up right.
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it wasn't one of those high end new york beach towns with oversized mcmansions and ov overpriced cars, breezy point was nice and friendly, a place where generations of families kept homes and always came back. so much of it is gone now, lost to flood and a devastating fire. this past week i walked through the streets, talked to the people who lived there, and i heard the stories only they could tell about how the disaster unfolded hour after hour from the first gust of wind, the terrible rise of water, and the incredible fire that finished them off. it's hard to believe that breezy point is a part of new york
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city, an idyllic seaside community within sight of a towering new york city skyline. but a world of its own. >> we say it is the anti-hamptons, if you will. >> reporter: michael gar jewgul an anchor, lived here. they weathered their share of disasters. on 9/11, it lost more than 30 residents, many of them police and firefighters. >> one of the most beautiful parts of breezy point is our 9/11 memorial, which is on the bay side, looking back towards where the twin towers stood. >> reporter: so as hurricane sandy bore down on the east coast this resilient community took it in stride, just as he had for hurricane irene last year, 20-year resident rick resner protectively boarded his house up, but he took some ribbing for it. >> i'm boarding up and people are making fun of me while i'm boarding up. the reporters are reporting the storm and they're telling us it is going to be bad. i'm not taking my chances.
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>> reporter: by sunday night, breezy point was under a mandatory evacuation order. but many, like tom and patricia rahm, whose family lived here for generations, refused to leave. >> we were here for irene. we evacuated. it wasn't that bad. said, all right, we can stick it out. it is only water. >> reporter: with all four of their kids, aged 9 to 19, the rahms holed up in their living room, hoping to brave the fierce winds. by 8:00 p.m., tom realized he was wrong. >> i was sitting on the couch, a river running down my, you know, front of the house, right around the back, slowly starts rising. so i got the kids out, filled up in the basement and probably in about five minutes. >> reporter: you thought your biggest worry of the night was going to be water. >> just water. you can deal with water. all of us can swim. >> reporter: nearby, jack was trying to ride out the storm with his wife, their two kids, and his 96-year-old mother-in-law. >> we can't move.
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my son wanted to go outside, save his car, it floated away. then all of a sudden, it was like the titanic. the windows, one cracked, all of a sudden, all of the windows cracked. it was surreal. >> i went upstairs, looked out front to see how it was. straight over that way, saw an orange glow out of one of the houses. oh my god. >> reporter: the tough breezy pointers were facing something even they had never imagined seeing in a hurricane, fire. >> the embers started flying over the houses, and the way the wind was blowing, it was wailing, going over the houses. >> reporter: you were safe here? >> safe here. >> reporter: the fire was going that way. >> watching it, and the winds started shifting and we started getting hit with baseball size pieces of ember hitting the house. >> reporter: whatever sparked the blaze, in mere minutes it became a wind driven inferno. panicked, tom knew he had to get his family out. >> go out the front, grab the surfboard, got to the back of the house, and the wind was
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swirling around, smoke, couldn't go out the back. had to go through the basement, in the water, come out of the side of the house and out the front, so went out the front of the house. everybody get together, grab the board, jump in the water you jump down and head down the block. >> reporter: terrified, 9-year-old tyler clutched the family dog sashy. you got scooted around on a surfboard. what were you thinking during all of that? >> not to fall in the water. >> reporter: how long after that did you see your house go up or did you see it go up? >> 15 minutes. all of a sudden, i seen the whole back of my house get engulfed. >> reporter: because his house wasn't on fire, jack took a risk, deciding it would be more dangerous to leave than stay. but how he wished he had obeyed that evacuation order. >> it was a big mistake. i meani put my family in jeopardy. >> to see this. >> reporter: kieran, a firefighter in brooklyn, was
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less than a mile away from the breezy point home he grew up in when he saw the flames. >> we went out, my brother and i, left the house in the middle of the storm to make our way towards the fire. and they kept asking me why are we doing this? i said, because it is somebody's house and you don't know if someone's in it, you know. >> reporter: you're a firefighter. was it clear to you that they were going to lose a lot of homes? >> absolutely. absolutely. >> reporter: he knew his own house was at risk. but at first he thought it would escape the blaze. >> my house was right there where that chimney is. when i got here, that was still standing, all these houses were standing. this whole entire area was covered in thick, black smoke. we went to the last house, that was on fire, to get an idea how far extended and where it was going. it exploded in flame at which point the firestorm basically came down the sand lane at us, and we had to flee. we were able to tell a few more people it was time for them to get out. >> reporter: driven by sandy's 70-mile-per-hour winds it was
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like watching a blow torch incinerate house after house. on top of that, chest deep floodwaters prevented firefighters from reaching the scene. >> that i think was the -- >> reporter: marty ingraham is chief of one of the community's three nearby volunteer fire departments. >> if i said the water was eight feet and it was raging and there were waves, they would have died. >> reporter: your truck was under water. >> truck was under water. they're really getting hot because they want to fight fires. and we're trapped here, couldn't do it. >> reporter: streets had become raging rivers, forcing volunteer firefighters to abandon firehouses and engines, and jump into rescue boats. radios were down, phones were dead. at first, even new york city firefighters were told it was too dangerous to venture in. water was this high. >> guys were stuck on the other side of the bridge and they were literally jumping over each other's shoulders trying to get the chief to change his mind. >> reporter: meantime, with fire
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hydrants buried under sea water, ingraham's men were facing an almost impossible task. >> we stretched the hose, standing in between four to six homes, winds cooking, embers all over the place, and it was surreal. i mean, it was like which one do you want to go to? >> reporter: some 300 new york city and volunteer firefighters battled the blaze through the night. but they could do little more than hold the edges of the inferno. in daylight, it looked like a war zone. >> this to me looks like berlin, world war ii, right? pictures i saw in grade school. >> reporter: 111 homes burned to the ground. one belonged to kieran burk, the brooklyn firefighter who had been one of the first at the scene. >> this is our house here. >> reporter: this one? >> our front door was here. it was a two-story house, three bedrooms upstairs, reduced to this. this is all that's left. it burned so ferociously that it literally incinerated the majority of the contents. >> reporter: still, chief
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ingraham knows it could have been worse. >> this is our community. and if we weren't here, the whole thing would have gone. >> reporter: in the days after the fire, the residents of breezy point were in a daze, many breaking down. what happens now? >> i don't know. go through insurance, seeing what's going to happen. and, you know, hoping to start, you know, cleaning up here. >> reporter: is there a sense, looking around here, that this is the stuff that happens to other people, in other places? >> yeah. you never expect it to be you. >> no. >> you know? >> no. >> reporter: but there is something about this resilient community that tells you it's going to come back. at its heart, brai breezy point grounded in faith and patriotism, drawing strength from the powerful symbols of religious statues that survived the flames and from an american flag discovered in the rubble by a 16-year-old girl that now flies above the site of breezy point's new beginning.
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we'll be following the folks of breezy point over the next few months as they try to rebuild their homes and their lives. up next, it's unfortunate, but whenever there is a crisis, there is an opportunity for scam artists and unlicensed contractors who promise to make things right. a warning when we come back. and paint right over all that..."art." boom! looks as good as it did the first time! cool! we could use that. [ male announcer ] we scan. mylowe's remembers. your life gets easier. mylowe's. sign up in your lowe's store today. lowe's. never stop improving.
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disasters like sandy often give a much needed shot in the arm to home repair businesses and contractors. and most of them, of course, are solid, legitimate business people. but times like these also bring out unlicensed contractors, and outright scam artists who offer a quick fix to desperate people. tonight, government officials say homeowners should be ware. here is nbc national investigative correspondent jeff rossen. >> reporter: sandy's sheer power caught on home video. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: now the massive cleanup is under way.
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and officials warn unlicensed contractors are coming out of the wood work. how big of a problem is this? >> it is a big problem. >> reporter: the new york attorney general issuing an urgent alert tonight. >> we're getting complaints there are folks who are willing to take advantage of victims of this disaster. >> reporter: already getting complaints? >> yes. already gotten a lot of complaints. >> reporter: just days after sandy, these guys are already at work on the decimated homes of vulnerable storm victims. >> it is terrible. it is unconscionable behavior. >> reporter: frank van dyke is a veteran investigator with suffolk county's consumer affairs unit. >> this contractor is operating right over here. >> reporter: scanning for companies breaking the law, in some of long island's hardest hit neighborhoods. do you have a business card? some do play by the rules. when frank checks this roofer, he's fully licensed. >> i'm glad somebody showed up and checked my credentials, made sure i was licensed. >> reporter: what do you make of the unlicensed contractors?
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>> stick it to them. >> reporter: that's what frank does at this next house. >> hey, guys. checking home improvement licenses. >> reporter: this contractor is removing a giant tree from this home, dangerous work that requires a license. he doesn't have one. >> i'm going to issue a violation. you come in on monday. >> reporter: we have some questions. you're removing a tree from a house. shouldn't you know as a professional that that requires a license. >> we do rigging. that's what we're licensed and ensured to do. >> reporter: there is no license for rigging either. he's actually an elevator repairman. you said you're licensed in rigging, your company installs elevators. how do you explain that? why did you tell us you were licensed in rigging and trained to remove trees. >> reporter: the homeowner says she was misled. did you know they were unlicensed when you hired them? >> no, they told us they were licensed. they should have a license, okay. it is the law. >> reporter: because without a license, you don't know who is showing up at your house. while some are honest,
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unlicensed contractors don't go through criminal background checks. and may not even have insurance. >> in a case like this, could do more damage to your house than you already have. someone could get injured on the job and then you're liable for the insurance to cover their injuries. consumer affairs, doing a licensing check. >> reporter: investigators find another contractor cutting up this tree. he swears he's licensed, but when frank calls it in -- >> okay, nothing under that. this is a violation, operating without a license. >> reporter: when we walk up, the contract or insists the database is wrong. >> i am licensed. >> reporter: when he checked, there is no license on file for you or your company. >> when i bring my paperwork down, we'll see otherwise. >> reporter: he says he'll show investigators proof the next day. but didn't. officials say some unlicensed contractors even walk down the street going door to door, luring you in with low, low prices. when your front yard looks like this, or actually any of the homes on this block, you're desperate. how do you say no?
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>> after storms, the storm chasers really come out. >> reporter: lou anna lewis is with the new york better business bureau. >> call your insurance agency, find out what your policy recovers and what is covered. secondly, don't use the guys that go door to door. finally, never, ever pay cash. >> reporter: especially important now with home after home looking like this, investigators fear it's open season. >> desperation is always what opens the door if it is scammers and there are very unscrupulous folks out there. when we come back the latest on the jersey shore, not the tv show, the real jersey shore which sandy may have changed forever.
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that's elizabeth.n. and that's skyler... and his mom, nancy. they're just a few of the californians who took it on themselves to send you a message about what they need to restore years of cuts to their schools. prop thirty-eight. thirty-eight raises billions in new revenue - bypasses sacramento
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and sends every k through 12 dollar straight to our local schools... every school. for them. for all of us. vote yes on thirty-eight. nobody took a bigger punch from sandy than the jersey shore. in some places memories of the only thing left, but folks there are determined to bring it all back, including one small town mayor who vowed to go down with his ship. here's dennis murphy. >> reporter: the devastation stretches for miles along the jersey shore tonight. but to truly understand sandy's impact, it helps to zoom into one town and one mayor. this is really strange, mayor, walking in three feet of sand on your city street.
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>> you could say it was snow. >> reporter: the back plows would have plowed this up like vermont snowplows. you don't have gasoline. some of the roads are impassable around here. >> right now, yes. it is going to be tough and that will tell the true mettle of our town, whether they can still pull together and, you know, we're hopeful they have a place to go once they can get out. you're wonderful. you're doing a great job. >> reporter: bill curtis is the mayor of bay head, new jersey, a seaside town with roots back to the 1880s. he also runs the local grocery store, as his parents and grandparents did before him. this is a place where community runs deep. >> everybody is pulling together. it's incredible. nobody's screaming at anybody. they're all in the same boat. they're trying to help one another. >> reporter: even before it slammed into their town, mayor curtis and the people of bay head knew sandy would be bad. we were with him four days ago as he got ready for the big one. >> the wind is picking up. and it's starting to go to low tide.
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so we'll be all right during the day, i think. but tonight, it is going to be very bad. >> reporter: he was determined to steer his town safely thrgh the worst sandy had to throw at them and given where he lives, it is not surprising he used a seaworthy metaphor. >> i am the mayor and i will go down with the ship. also, just in case people need provisions that may stay, we'll be here right after the storm is over. >> reporter: and he was. we caught up with him again yesterday. you've been a shore guy for a long, long time. >> all my life. >> reporter: you seen anything like this? >> never. never. >> reporter: '62 was bad. >> '62 was bad. '92 was bad. but nothing like this. nothing. >> reporter: last weekend this pier was holding up a house. if you live on a barrier island, there are five words you never want to hear. the bay met the ocean. and that's just what happened here in historic bay head, 20-foot surge of ocean water came across east avenue and went all the way to the bay, taking
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with it homes, possessions, and just generations of memories. some things that can't be replaced, some that can. but it will take a lot of work and money. >> we have lost houses. and that's absolutely a shame. it is just -- >> reporter: historic old places. >> they have been damaged. they have been damaged. >> reporter: over here, mayor. >> yeah, it's -- that's awful. >> reporter: water kicked that right out, huh? >> that used to be our movie theater. and it still slopes down to our lake. >> reporter: it all looks dreadful. the damage, it will cost billions to repair along this coast. but people by the sea know how to weather a storm. mayor says they will rebuild. his town is jersey strong. let me put your poet hat on. what makes people love the shore? >> the salt air, the freshness, the cleanliness and i'll be quite honest with you, people in this town are phenomenal.
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we have a little sign in our store that bay head is like one big family. and -- it. >> reporter: you sure are this week. >> absolutely. >> a reminder that you can still help out the hurricane relief efforts. the red cross is still taking pledges from that special benefit concert broadcast earlier tonight on the networks of nbc. just go to redcross.org or call 1-800-help-now. stay with your late local news for more on the storm and, of course, i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today." we leave you tonight with some images of this long devastating week from the hurricane's first fury to the herculean efforts of recovery, the storm may have brought our city to its knees, but tonight we are standing. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good night.
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